Pennsylvania: Snow Squall Causes Massive Fatal Pileup

Bridget Mulroy

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Dash-cam video screenshot of the fatal snowstorm pileup from a Wilkes-Barre Township first responder.(Wilkes-Barre Township Police Department/Facebook)

A deadly pileup occurred at about 10:30 Monday morning on Interstate 81 in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. The incident took place about fifty miles northeast of Harrisburg. 

Traffic on the northbound side of Interstate 81 was backed up for miles which made it difficult for first responders to arrive at the scene of the accident. Seven miles of the roadway were shut down so they could gain access to the location.

Mike Moye was one of the drivers caught in the disaster. A video (warning: strong language) he recorded of the scene unfolding illustrates the calamity, it may be shocking to some viewers. You see cars and trucks slipping down the road and careening into each other because they lose control of their vehicles in the poor driving conditions. His video and others have drawn a great deal of attention to the incident.

Nearly sixty cars and trucks were involved in the wreckage. Dozens of people were injured and at least three were pronounced dead. Officials have not yet confirmed the number of fatalities since first responders are still working to clear the wreck.

An investigation into the accident is developing. Clean-up efforts, shown in other videos, are revealing more information. 

“The road conditions when the squall came through contributed to the accident,” said states spokesman for Schuylkill County Office of Emergency Management, John Blickley.

The area was experiencing bouts of heavy snow and strong winds which caused decreased visibility and created white-out conditions for Schuylkill and surrounding counties.

Pileups caused by snow squalls have happened many times throughout history. Only recently, in 2017, was an official snow squall warning developed. 

Weather warnings were issued for the area on Monday however no warning had been issued at the time of the accident because the storm hadn’t yet been detected.

David Beohm, a spokesman for Pennsylvania State Police explained how the wreck is “far from being clear” in a telephone interview this morning. The roadway is still reported to be shut down.

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